Thursday, 1 December 2011

Tracking iOS and Android App Store Marketing Campaigns

So I've been asked how do we identify where our users are coming from? Which marketing campaigns are the most successful? And are we making our money back?

I'm sure there are many people out there with the same question!

The problem:

We want to use multiple ad networks to determine which provides the most engaged user, and which networks we are making our money back on. However Apple iOS App Store and Google Marketplace (now Google Play) all make this difficult.

  1. Installs are all through a single source (AppStore).
  2. The AppStore swallows all source information.
  3. Apple doesn't allow us to put tracking codes into the install process.
  4. Applications and the Web Browser are sandboxed. We cannot set a cookie and read it from within an application.
The solution:

I appreciate there are many sources of inaccuracy with this approach, however I think it's a good start. We will need:

  • Ad click tracking and forward to app store.
  • Consume a click, recording a new user against the click with as much accuracy as possible.

This seems simple in concept but can be tricky to implement.

Ad Click Tracking

This involves writing a webservice which will record as many details about an ad click as possible, all open and available information given to us from the Safari browser will do.

Ad Service Notification

In our own Application Servers we add a little extra to the Create New User functions, providing a callback with all of the details available which the browser normally can provide. This could even be done through a webview sent to a specific endpoint which can hopefully provide the identical information provided before.

Final Piece of the Puzzle

Consumption: We need to consume ad clicks as soon as we can. The longer we leave it the more inaccurate the results. Match up the first Ad Click with the first matching New User and attach the user to the click.

This should give us a picture of how successful and valuable our marketing campaigns have been when compared against each other.


Clearly there are massive sources of inaccuracy! I do wish Apple and Google would allow us to put an arbitrary string into the install process ( think: ) as this would be far more accurate! But what other choice do we have?

If you want to find out more about the solution and how well it is working for us, please contact me and ask.

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